One of the most common misconceptions about the use of marijuana is that it is likely to impair a driver in the same way that alcohol does. Essentially, if someone has smoked a marijuana cigarette and then gets behind the wheel, he or she will be just as impaired (if not more) than someone who has had a few too many drinks.
Indeed, smoking marijuana before getting behind the wheel is not a very good idea, but simply because you have ingested it at some time before driving (or getting stopped) does not mean that you were impaired to the point where you would be violating the law. Or better yet, a danger to others on the road in the same way a drunk driver would.
Unfortunately, this is likely the way marijuana impaired drivers are seen by the public and law enforcement alike. However, a study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cites evidence that shows otherwise. Essentially, drunk drivers are almost seven times more likely to be involved in a crash compared to those who would be impaired by marijuana.
The basic science is that marijuana metabolizes much differently than alcohol, so the impairment correlates differently as well. So if a person is charged with driving while under the influence of marijuana, there is a chance that the person was not impaired to the point that their motor skills or judgment would be compromised.
If you have been charged in this manner and have questions, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help.